After walking up the stairs of the Woodward Avenue entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts, passing one of Rodin's "Thinker" statues and entering the main lobby, visitors are quickly drawn toward a sky-lit courtyard with four walls painted by Diego Rivera. The frescoes signify, in many ways, the museum's identity: art at an awe-inspiring scale, serving as a testament to the industrial heyday of the Motor City.
Rivera's work, and the rest of the DIA's contents, may soon be seen merely as financial assets in the eyes of creditors looking to get back the massive amounts of long-term debt the city of Detroit owes, currently estimated to be as much as $15 billion. The DIA's collection is believed to be worth billions, and art museums do sell off parts of their collection from time to time, though usually to acquire other art.
"This is unprecedented in the history of any art museum," says the museum's vice president, Annemarie Erickson. "We’re in unchartered waters."
From The Atlantic CIties. Link.